The Church ‘interrupts’ the normal observance today of the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time in order to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. In the Liturgy of the Church, where it is possible to do so, the events of the life of the Lord are sometimes observed with attention to ‘chronological’ precision. For example, we celebrate the Lord’s birth (Christmas) nine months after His conception (Annunciation by the Angel to Mary). Today’s Feast is another instance of that ‘chronological’ precision. It was customary among the Jews, in order to fulfill the Old Testament Law, to present the first born male at the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth. The firstborn son had special significance as the primary heir to the family. Specially dedicating the firstborn son to the Lord also was an acknowledgment of what God had done for the Jews by sparing their firstborn children when the firstborn of the Egyptians died at the time of the Exodus. In addition, whereas many of the pagans offered their firstborn as literal sacrifices to their gods, the Jews offered a sacrifice of animals (the poor offered two pigeons) in the place of the child, as a ransom for his life. It is in this context that Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple. And it is here that the righteous man Simeon and the prophetess Anna bless God and give witness to all present that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” This reference to light at His Presentation is the source of the Church’s practice of blessing candles on this Feast. We shall observe this long custom here at Saints Peter & Paul. Blessed candles will be available in the Holy Family Cenacle for those who would like them for their home.
It is good to be back home after a wonderful pilgrimage to the Holy Land! My thanks again to Msgr. Hundt, and Frs. Menzel and Becker for providing their priestly service while I was gone.
May God bless you!